My mother was right there with me, trying her best to keep me laughing because laughter was her medicine for everything. She began to tell me about the night I was born. She told me that since she was on an Army base and it was the early 70's they would not allow my father in the room with her, which really aggravated her because she wanted him to be there to see what she was going through. Instead, he headed off to a bar with some buddies to celebrate the birth of his first daughter. She said that she was scared shit less sitting there alone, not knowing what was coming next. She asked for drugs, which they gladly gave her because, as she stated, she was such a stickler with the questions that the whole nursing staff just wanted her to shut up for a while...then she laughed hard because she admitted that she was such a pain int he ass! I am giggling now writing this because I loved when she cracked herself up.
It turned out to be a long day. I arrived at the hospital around 9 am. At 7 pm I was still only at 4cm because of the lack of water in my uterus. Somewhere in the day we heard the screams from the next room and we were sure that someone was dying over there. It was the voice of a girl and she was so distraught that she kept saying..."I don't want to do this anymore! Please just take the baby, please make it stop!" It was alarming to hear and the screams were so primal that I began to get scared. Her pleads were relentless. Her voice was desperate. Her cries were disturbing. I could not believe that she was in that much pain. It got worse as the hours wore on and it began to get under my mother's skin. Soon, there were no breaks from her agony, it was non-stop yelling and crying. We could hear a muffled voice in there with her, but it was hard to make out what the voice was saying with all that was going on in the hospital. A nurse came in to check on me and she could see that we were having difficulty hearing the other patient. The nurse was clearly just as disturbed by the cries as we were, and after a few minutes she stood at the side of my bed and took my hand to check my pulse. She had brown eyes and short brown hair, her skin was soft and her own hands were very warm in that cold room. She looked at me and smiled. "I probably should not say this..." she began with a slight quiver in her tone..."but I want you to know that you are one strong and selfless woman. That girl you hear is just 13 years old. She is having a baby and she is only 13." She finished with my pulse and wrote the info on the chart. "The difference between you and her is that she is not choosing to place her child for adoption. She is going to keep it. That child is having a child and she will be keeping it. I hope you know how lucky you are to have the mother that you have because that poor girl in there has a mother who is using this innocent baby to teach her child a lesson. She is making her keep the baby as punishment. Now, I am not one to judge people...but she has no business raising a child at 13. ." My mother and I were shocked. We could not believe that A) this nurse was telling us this and B) that the mother in the other room would think that way. "I know, I sound cruel right now. But I see young girls everyday who come in here and have babies and all I want to do is tell them that it is not the fantasy that they think it is. I have to hold my tongue everyday with these girls and it breaks my heart. Then, to hear the awful things that their mothers say to them...well it is nothing short of child abuse." My mother and I just sat there. "If I can be so bold, I hope you know what a wonderful mother you have to be here supporting you at a time like this." She then looked at my mother. "Good for you Mom, I wish there were more women out there like you. What a wonderful, understanding mother you are which is probably the reason your daughter has chosen adoption. I think you are both amazing." She smiled with eyes full of tears, patted my hand and told me she would go and get me some ice chips.
The hours after that were filled with an uncomfortable air as the hospital quieted down, and the mother next door began to show her stress. Her daughter was having a very difficult time with the labor because I am sure it was scary for her. I mean let's face it, 13 is not an ideal age to be giving birth in the first place. She was now close to delivering and her pain was audibly excruciation. The words that came out of that mother's mouth were just awful. "I hope it hurts ... I hope you remember that pain because that is what I feel when I think of this whole situation ... that pain will never measure up to the disappointment that we feel... Do you know how much you have embarrassed us?' My mother and I were just looking at each other. We could not believe what we were hearing. "You are going to raise this baby and live with the consequences that you have set for yourself, even worse, for us ... You have ruined your life, I hope you know that." Oh, are you kidding me? She is 13 woman! 'What a selfish, selfish mother' I thought to myself in the same moment I asked God to forgive her and help that child in all that she would now be living with. I then said another prayer thanking HIM for my mother. Poor Sande, she was just squirming in the chair listening to it all. I know that she wanted to go over there and just hug that little girl and stare down the mother. She would not physically do anything to harm this woman, but she would look right through her soul with her icy blue eyes as if to say...'another time, another place'. Her eyes were rolling all over the room and she was even pacing at one point. My mother had no patience for parents who were not accountable. She would later tell me that she wanted to scream out..."Hey, where were you when she was getting pregnant? Why are you allowing your 13 year old daughter out of your sight? Did you not talk to her about the birds and the bees? Maybe she was out to get away from your horrible mouth.' We turned on the television on to try and drown out the noise, the screams, the crying and the verbal abuse. I told my mother with my eyes that I was thankful for her, I could not say it out loud yet...I did not know how to express to her how much she meant to me to be there with me and not ridicule me like that. She knew. She smiled at me, got up close to the side of my bed and said ... "Let me have the remote. Saturday Night Live is on."
I know that it was hard for her to watch me in labor. Long about 4 am the "dry birth" was becoming a term that would be etched into my brain for a lifetime. There was finally an epidural that to me was like the biggest candy fest ever! It was very hard to get it in, my spine was tricky because my daughter's head was right underneath my tailbone so when the contractions came she would rear her head back and compress my entire spinal column. The anesthesiologist kept telling me how important it was to keep still or I could be paralyzed from the waist down. Good to know. I did my best to keep still. Once it was in and I was back on the bed he turned on the IV and my whole world changed. Sweet medical advancements! My mother giggled to see the instant relief on my face, that I was one happy camper, finally comfortable. It was smooth sailing from there on in and as a bonus, the young girl finally gave birth and they whisked her off that side of the building to recovery...ahhhhh, much calmer. 7 am came around and things began to progress. Dr. B came to see me, told me we were not far and predicted within a couple of hours. In the meantime, he would keep my happy needle in place so I would be comfortable. He was right. Two hours later we were in the delivery room getting prepped for delivery. There were many who had to help me onto the table because of the dead legs I had. Once I was there I took a look around the room and saw this gigantic mirror just behind the nurses who were setting things up for the doctor. I asked my mom, "What is that? Why is there a gigantic mirror?" "So you can see the baby being born." "Oh" I said. I thought it was kinda weird. Once I was given the okay to push I sat up to do so and was shocked to see the mirror...oh...my...gosh! Really, do I have to look at it? It was so distracting. Oh man! It was disturbing to me, very freaky. The doctor was telling me to push as hard as I could, my mother was right next to me telling me to push and all I could do was look at that crazy mirror behind the doctor. It was all tilted and angled perfectly so I could see everything that was going on. I did not feel the need to look at that, much less have everyone else, especially my mother, looking at the display. When I think of that labor, I think of the mirror. My mother finally told me "Push it out Kelsey! Push that baby out and you will feel so much better...just push!" I did and finally she was born. We looked at her and she was gray, literally gray in color. We then saw the concern on the doctor's and nurses faces as they quickly took her off to an incubator. "What is wrong with her?" I asked frantically. "Do not worry honey, this is typical in a dry birth. We are going to take her and make sure there is no infection or other issues. Her color will come back, she is breathing and she will be fine. Don't you worry." I began to ball uncontrollably. My body was shaking and I was cold as hell. He told me that it was all normal, I had lost a lot of blood and the hormones were going crazy. He told me how strong I was, how proud he was of me, that I did so well with in the delivery. He told my mother that she had a beautiful granddaughter. She was crying right along with me. It was very emotional for us both because I think we knew that it was coming to an end. That our flesh and blood was not leaving that hospital with us. We were comforting each other and touching everyone in that room. There was not a dry eye in the place, they all knew what the circumstances were and they were visibly touched by the relationship that she and I had. She was so focused on me, just right there with me whispering things to me that I will cherish forever.
She was my strength, my rock, my safety net. I gave her hope, she gave me faith to believe in myself.
The day we left the hospital was gut wrenching. The priest came in first thing in the morning, as he had every morning being a Catholic hospital, but this particular morning he told me that he had been praying for me so I would have the strength for the days ahead. He prayed for both of us and he spoke in Latin as he lay his hand on my daughter's head. After he left, the reality set in. I was a mess once my mother got there, eyes all puffy, face blotchy from trying not to cry, shirt just wet from tears and milk filling my breasts. I was doing well mentally and keeping it together, but she could tell that my heart was on the floor. We just loved her and kissed her until they came to tell us that Foster Care was there. As per the laws of MO, I had to physically hand the baby to the foster mother before I left the hospital. I thought it a rather cruel practice, I would have rather left her with a nurse so I could avoid the drama in the lobby. Yes, I had to do the hand over in the lobby, They did not even give me the respect to do it privately but rather in the lobby of a busy hospital for any Joe Schmoe to watch, which some did. Real low point for me. I remember looking out the back window as we drove away and seeing the foster mother still talking to the evil social worker (See Happy Thoughts #5, Jan 2010 on this blog for the evil social worker comment). It was hard to pull away in the car and not go running back to get her. I knew that I was doing the right thing for us at the time, but it was not helping me to see her disappear the further we pulled away. When I got home, I saw that my mother had done all she could to make me comfortable. She made me a bed on the couch, she made all my favorite foods, she had rented some of my favorite movies and she cleaned the whole house spic and span so she could just be with me. I remember that day well. It was full of tears, full of sadness, full of emotion. But the one thing that was constant? My mother. She did everything she could to help me. She was always there for me, no matter what and that day it was the most comforting thing in the world just to have her on my side.
Next time...the story of the second Bruce in her life. The one who would treat her baby like a queen.